Technology

Friends Reunited website to close down

Friends Reunited homepage Image copyright Friends Reunited
Image caption The Friends Reunited website is still live

Friends Reunited - one of the UK's first social networks - has announced it will soon close.

One of its founders Steve Pankhurst explained in an email that the platform was still used by "a handful of members" but that it was "no longer used for the purpose it was built for".

Friends Reunited launched in the year 2000 and was bought by broadcaster ITV for £175m ($250m) in 2005.

However, it failed to keep pace with other social networks.

Image copyright Friends Reunited
Image caption Friends Reunited launched in 2000

It was sold to comic publisher DC Thomson for only £25m in 2009 and Mr Pankhurst wrote in a blog post that the company had offered it back to him a couple of years ago.

Pankhurst and business partner Jason Porter agreed to take on the site for a trial period to see if they could revitalise it.

"It became clear that most of the actual users coming to the site were using it purely as a messageboard," wrote Mr Pankhurst.

"And I also realised that of the more than 10 million users registered, a lot had done so over a decade ago and hence their contact details were out of date.

Image copyright Friends Reunited
Image caption Friends Reunited was redesigned a few times during its life

"But importantly - it hasn't covered its costs and like any business this can't continue indefinitely.

"Therefore, whilst it's sad, I believe it's time to move on and put Friends Reunited to bed."

Mr Pankhurst is now planning to launch a new service called Liife. This will be somewhere for people to plot key moments in their lives, but only to share them with those who were involved rather than a wider audience.

However, social media consultant Sue Llewellyn warned: "The market is incredibly crowded with all of these things and I honestly can't see there is space for it.

"I understand totally about the privacy side - privacy is a big thing and it's getting bigger - but I can't see a need for Liife.

"I really wish them luck and I'm happy to eat my virtual hat if it works."

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